Reality Check: The Truth Behind Finding a Job Online

Part I of II

Sam Huleatt,

In recent years colleges have spent thousands of dollars on job listing websites such as and However, the percentage of alumni actually getting a job from such online sources is never reported. Why? The answer is that the chance of landing a job on the internet is extremely, extremely low. Furthermore, colleges do a disservice to their students and alumni by not addressing the facts.

The Facts. 80% of the jobs available at any one time are not listed on websites or in papers. This ’magic 80%’ of jobs can only to be discovered via strategic networking. Furthermore, this 80% of jobs are the ’superior’ positions; jobs at the best companies, jobs with the most responsibility and the best salaries. So why do you not know about them? Why are these jobs not listed on The reason is simple. Great positions don’t need to be advertised because they attract candidates with no effort. Take the management consulting field as an example. Job opportunities with a top consulting firm are extremely competitive; few positions are available at any one time since turnover is low. Suppose however that an ’associate position’ does become available. Even without an advertised opening, hundreds of candidates have already sent unsolicited resumes to the HR department. Since hiring is always best through people you trust, the ’friends of friends’ effect, the hiring manager will first comb his or her own contact list to think of friends who might be good for the position. If the hiring manager does not have someone in mind, the next group of people to learn about the opening will be current employees. Larger companies normally have an internal job listing board where positions are posted; otherwise general word of mouth marketing among employees may generate an additional list of candidates. (Note that all of the aforementioned candidate leads would be given priority over an anonymous online resume submission.)

In summary, the likelihood a good consulting firm needing to publicly ’list’ a job opening online is very low. Based on the number of unsolicited resumes and the backlogs of qualified ’friends of friends,’ most open positions will never make it to the internet. Even if a firm does list a position online, the volume of applicants will be extraordinary. The lesson is that listing a position online is ONLY done because a firm does not have enough qualified candidates within its immediate network; otherwise why pay the hefty listing fee to


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